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Children's books

Harriet at 50

Even at 50 years old, Harriet can rankle readers. All students of children’s literature (in fact anyone interested in children’s literature) should meet her — even those who first encountered Harriet when they were children.

The 1960s were turbulent; change was everywhere — including in books for children. First published in 1964, Harriet the Spy marked a sea change in the direction of juvenile fiction. Some people loved it, others had an equally strong and opposite reaction to the book.

Informational Text and Young Children

So the woman who runs my local children’s book store told me that more and more parents of young children are asking for “nonfiction beginning readers” because “that’s what Common Core wants.” Really? In kindergarten and first grade? Aren’t beginning readers supposed to develop their decoding and word recognition by reading simple stories (the ones populated by talking pigs).

Because They Marched: Our interview with writer Russell Freedman

Russell Freedman was raised by parents who were involved with books and authors, so perhaps it is not surprising that he was attracted to writing. It is fortunate for readers of all ages that he was ultimately drawn to it as a full-time career.

Use Quality Audiobooks, Bookshare and Learning Ally to Support Struggling Readers

The " Notable Children’s Recordings" for 2015 are out from the American Library Association that can boost learning for children who struggle to read traditional books in print or inaccessible digital text formats.

Laura’s Little Schools

On the Little Journey, both Avery and Janet had a special interest in schools where Laura studied or taught since Avery has always loved to play school and Janet has taught students at all levels — from early elementary to graduate school. Janet writes below about the striking differences and not so surprising similarities we found between the schoolhouses in De Smet and those of today.

The end of a month

I read a statement on a publisher’s blog that resonated with me: “Black History is American History.” (The publisher is Lee & Low, a press known for publishing diverse books.)

I’ve written about this before and still believe that the sooner we get rid of hyphenated Americans, the better off we’ll be, able to have fuller discussions and let readers of all ages revel in the diversity that is us. 

Exploring History and Story in the Little Town on the Prairie

Laura Ingalls was born on February 7, 1867 outside of Pepin, Wisconsin. We started our Little Journey there and have visited other places Laura lived, but we’d not yet set foot in an actual building inhabited by the Ingalls.

Our last day in De Smet, South Dakota, we made our way to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes to change that.

Awards season – with a few surprises

The Newbery and Caldecott (and other Youth Media Awards) were announced yesterday in Chicago at the midwinter conference of the American Library Association. This year’s Caldecott honorees (gold and silver both) remind me that these books are for a wide range of readers, potentially children up to and including age 14.

El Deafo: Virginia Author-Illustrator Turns Her Use of an Assistive Technology Device into a Strength

Students who use a device to support their access to the curriculum often struggle because assistive technology (AT) can make them feel different from their peers.

Our Interview with Writer Elizabeth Rusch

At a recent conference, I had the chance to meet Elizabeth Rusch, the author of several of “Scientists in the Field” series (a consistently excellent series) — and discovered that I knew many of her other books. They range from picture books to narrative nonfiction with lots in between. I was intrigued and wanted to ask her more questions than time allowed.

So Liz Rusch agreed to an interview. Not surprisingly, she takes her work very seriously. What shines through with all of her well researched work is a respect for the subjects — and for readers.

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"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx